David Fizdale: Luka Doncic Could Top Dirk Nowitzki for Best European Player Ever

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 15, 2019

New York Knicks' Dennis Smith Jr., right, defends against Dallas Mavericks' Luka Doncic (77) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale didn't hold back when evaluating Luka Doncic following Thursday's matchup.  

"He's going to push Dirk [Nowitzki] for the greatest European to ever play this game when it's all said and done," Fizdale told reporters after Doncic posted a triple-double of 33 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in New York's 106-103 victory.

Doncic appears well on his way to a legendary career after winning Rookie of the Year in his first season by averaging 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists. He has been even better in the early going this season and dazzled the Madison Square Garden crowd on Thursday.

He's only 20 years old but was in full control throughout the game, consistently finding the open man, attacking the basket when opportunities presented themselves and unleashing a memorable stretch in the final four minutes of the third quarter.

With his team down seven, Doncic converted an and-1, made a floater, blocked Dennis Smith Jr. and made a triple on three consecutive possessions to ensure the game was tied heading into the fourth.

It was a reminder of just how high his ceiling is, though comparing him to Nowitzki is probably a bit premature.

Nowitzki is a surefire Hall of Famer as a champion, 12-time All-NBA selection, league MVP, NBA Finals MVP and 14-time All-Star. His individual brilliance helped usher in a more internationally driven era in the NBA, and he helped pave the way for playmakers such as Doncic to excel at the highest level.

The new Mavericks sensation may get there one day, but he has massive shoes to fill if he is going to be remembered at Nowitzki's level.